Some council members wanted more time to consider the matter

Charleston City joined over 40 other coastal communities that have decided to vote against allowing offshore drilling near the coast. The city council voted 7-5 to support a resolution opposing seismic testing and offshore drilling, reports the local Post and Courier.

“Not only are our economies largely based on the vitality of our coastal resources, but culturally, we identify with our coastal heritage,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said in formal comments to the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management. The government organization recently opened the doors to possible exploration of the eastern seaboard as part of the President’s Five Year Program.

According to international advocacy group Oceana, the City of Charleston joins 42 other municipal areas along the East Coast in opposition to offshore drilling. Eight communities are in South Carolina with 12 more in North Carolina. Hilton Head Island and the town of James Island passed similar resolutions last week.

Concerns over drilling include any potential oil spill damaging the environment or seismic activity harming local sea life, both of which could affect standard of living along the coastline.

Proponents of offshore drilling say that the opposition is looking at this the wrong way, however.Drilling could bring thousands of new jobs to the region. “If you look at what happens when you have offshore drilling, number one you have helicopters, then you have pilots, and you have restaurants,” said Kay Clamp with the South Carolina Petroleum Council. “The revenues that come into this from the Federal Government could be used about anyway you would like.” There are currently no operations in the Atlantic Ocean, and the last estimates on its resource availability were conducted in the early 1980s. Based on two-dimensional seismic surveys from the period, recoverable resources amounted to 3.3 billion BO and 31.3 Tcf.

The council members who voted against the measure also felt that the sides were represented unequally. “I’m disappointed with the fact that we were asked to pass judgment on an issue and provide judgment to a resolution or an opinion when we don’t have all the facts on both sides,” said Councilman Gary White. “I recognize the issues regarding the environment … But if we don’t know what the potential positive impacts could be to our economy and jobs, I just think we make a short sighted decision.”

The 7-5 vote to oppose seismic testing was taken after a failed motion to defer the vote for another week.

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